Wil Wheaton Describes What It's Like To Suffer From Anxiety, Then Get Help: 'I'm Not Just Existing, I'm Living'

Actor and writer Wil Wheaton is used to being interviewed about his work on TV shows such as The Big Bang Theory, but in the above video he opens up about a topic far more personal.

Wheaton suffers from Generalised Anxiety Disorder, which is often characterised by feeling anxious and fearful for a long period of time, but not feeling anxious about anything specific that is happening.

As part of Project UROK, Wheaton shares his story in order to raise awareness about mental health issues.

"I wasn't aware that my mental illness was affecting me until I had been suffering from it for easily about 15 to 20 years," he explains.

"What I accepted as 'normal' was part of my mental illness expressing itself."

Wheaton found everyday situations such as being stuck in traffic extremely stressful and decided to seek help around six years ago after a day at a crowded airport caused him to "totally freak out".

His wife was the one who suggested he needed to see a doctor. It was then that he visited a psychiatrist and was prescribed medication.

Just two weeks later, Wheaton felt that his mood and overall outlook had improved.

"My wife and I were having a walk in the neighbourhood and I realised that it was just a really beautiful day - it was warm with just a little bit of a breeze, the birds sounded really beautiful, the flowers smelled really great and my wife's hand felt really good in mine," he says.

"And as we were walking I just started to cry and she was like 'what's wrong?'

"I said 'I just realised that I don't feel bad and I just realised that I'm not existing, I'm living'.

"The best way that I could describe it was that I had lived my life in a room that was so loud, all I could do every day was deal with how loud it was. But I found a doorway out of that room."

As well as raising awareness about mental illness, Project UROK aims to create "a sense of comfort, a sense of belonging, and a sense of hope" for young sufferers.

Wheaton does not want people suffering from anxiety to shy away from seeking the help that they need.

"Live life with depression, rather than live life through depression," he says.

"You are not the only person in the world who has anxiety. You are not the only person in the world who has depression. And you are not the only person who has had thoughts of self harm.

But there are people who want to help you."

If you're experiencing feelings of anxiety or depression, here are some websites and helplines you may find useful:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
  • Young Minds offers information to young people about mental health and emotional wellbeing
  • HeadMeds - a straight-talking website on mental health medication
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